Thursday, June 06, 2013

Ssshhh... Spoilers.

There’s a classic episode of the comedy “Whatever happened to the Likely Lads?” from 1973 in which our hapless heroes Bob and Terry are trying to avoid the result of a football match between England and Bulgaria - as they’re intending to watch the game on television that evening. They both go to absurd lengths to avoid seeing or hearing the result in ever more desperate attempts to find places where there won’t be a radio or a television set – they give blood, go flower arranging with the Women’s Institute and even try to find sanctuary in a local church. And it all ends, as the majority of comedies from the seventies do, with everything going hopelessly wrong whilst the credits and end theme play over footage of them looking dejected.

(As an aside, it was an unwritten rule for all comedies in the seventies - and 86% of comedies in the eighties - that all characters who’d appeared over the course of the episode had to bizarrely all congregate together in the same room for the end credits. This would without fail accompany the main character/characters who were trying to extricate themselves from a collapsed wardrobe, look forlornly at the ruins of what was once their house or attempt to shoo off a goat running amok in their living room).

If Bob and Terry were trying to do the same today, the episode would last around eight seconds. Terry would get a text he’d think was from a “bird he’d met at the Elephant and Thistle”, look at his phone and a BBC update would tell him the score there and then in 24 point Gill Sans.

Bob and Terry: FUCK.

End Credits play: "Oh, what happened to you, Whatever happened to me? What became of the peeeeeeople we used to be?"

BBC Announcer; “Join us for the next episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?” in which Bob and Terry start secretly playing World of Warcraft without telling the other and accidentally fall in love with each others characters and agree to meet in real life on a blind date”.

It's a natural human reaction that whenever we learn something, one of our first instincts is to tell other people. This has generally served us well as a species, with one of the earliest examples being Chief Grok Facebeard-one-arm teaching his fellow cave dwellers the cautionary tale that Sabre-tooth tigers definitely do not like being ticked under the chin.

Remember the old days when the first you knew of a film was when it was advertised on telly? And the only way you'd know the plot in advance was if you purchased the tie-in novel (which was probably written by Alan Dean Foster)?  These were also the good old days when our favourite Timelord could regenerate without 9 months of speculative newspaper articles about it. Now information zips around the world at light-speed to our televisions, computers and our phones and we're spoiled with pretty much every plot line, every snappy line of dialogue and every special effect of every film before we've even seen it.

But despite this, it's still possible for surprises to happen.

Occasionally an event happens that is so momentous - so paradigm shattering - that facebook and twitter feeds solely consist of the letters O, M and G scrolling endlessly - and if you squint hard enough at it you can pretend you're in the fucking matrix.

I am referring of course to the infamous Red Wedding from the recently shown Episode 9 of Series 3 of Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode before we have to agonisingly wait 11 months or so the next instalment.

The whole episode seemed to be building up to something. It was unusually tense and claustrophobic for the first half, but I think like many others I stood up from the sofa in astonishment when the doors of the wedding were ███████ and ███████ pulled back the ██████ of █████ to reveal █████████. Horror was etched across her face - she barely had time to ████ █████ before a █████ came out of the darkness and ███████ ███ ████████ ████ repeatedly in the ███████. A ██████ ████████ of three  █████ characters, and surely an ███ to the █████████.

For some people of course it isn't a spoiler. There are those who smugly announce that they've known what was going to happen since they read it in "A Storm of Swords" 13 years ago, and are frankly amazed that it is even possible to sit in the Venn Diagram intersection of "People who can read" and "People who like sci-fi/fantasy" and NOT have read it.

But at least "The Red Wedding" finally answers the mystery of why a few of my fantasy loving and book reading friends were in bad moods for much of the year 2000.

(As an aside, I can both read and I also like science fiction and Fantasy, although I tend not to have a great deal of time to dedicate to books that worryingly thick unless they have titles like "Expert 9i Database Administration" or "Oracle in a Nutshell". And work related texts are a great deal easier to dip in and out of with a much less involved plot and less characters. And certainly less magic weaponry. Usually).

Like Bob and Terry, I felt I had to watch the episode as quickly as possible - I'd picked up the hints that something big was going to happen, but didn't know what - and I was damned if I was going to be told before I'd found out for myself.

These people posting spoilers all over social media? I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don't think they are being mean or thoughtless - I think it boils down to the aforementioned weird human trait of wanting to genuinely share this information out of a sense of excitement, that "OMG DID YOU SEE THAT" reaction.

But it still makes navigating social media a bit of a minefield - but we're all only human.

But if anybody tells me what happens in the forthcoming "Man of Steel" I will genuinely hunt you down, kill you slowly - and use your intestines as upholstery.


  1. I'll be at the 2.30 showing of Man of Steel at the Imax, next Friday. I'll have *plenty* of time to tell you what happens.


  2. I will gleefully destroy you, SuperMatt.


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